I am a hipster. Or so people tell me – every chance they get.


When I say that I enjoy commuting by bicycle, people wonder why I don’t just take the subway like everyone else—and then tell me I’m a hipster. When acquaintances learn that I once worked on an organic farm, it’s not uncommon that I receive in response an eye-roll and a condescending joke about what a good hipster I am. When I tell people that my favorite thing to do in New York City is to surf (yes, you can surf at some of the city’s beaches and no, I’m not the only person out there), they deem this too ironic to be sincere and, yet again, label me a hipster.


Now I’m not here to petition for your pity or to deny my hipsterdom. I own the entire Led Zepellin discography on vinyl, have sported a mustache for the past five years and live in Brooklyn for crying out loud! If I’m anything, I’m a hipster. I’m just wondering, since when did being a hipster become such a bad thing?


Urban Dictionary says, “Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s who value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.” That sounds pretty good to me. It also says that “hipsters tend to be well educated and often have liberal arts degrees, or degrees in math and sciences, which also require certain creative analytical thinking abilities.” That sounds even better!


So here are some reasons that I do these things that classify me as a hipster. And as you’ll see, sustainability or a desire to be more connected to the earth, is the common thread.


  • Biking is good for me and for the planet! After conducting a series of studies, Richard Florida at The Atlantic concluded that “…towns where people bike to work are richer, fitter, and more successful in many other ways.” What’s more, a study from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy says that “bicycling could help cut carbon emissions from urban transportation 11 percent.” That carries a lot of weight with this liberal-arts educated tree hugger.
  • Local, organic farming cuts CO2 emissions! A study by the Rodale Institute, suggests that organic farming practices could counteract the world’s yearly carbon dioxide output and produce the same amount of food as conventional farming. The Institute looked at 75 studies from peer-reviewed journals, including its own 33-year Farm Systems Trial, and found that if all farms were made organic it would offset 40 percent of annual CO2 emissions. Additionally, volunteering at your local organic farm or garden is a great way to get some fresh air, meet your neighbors and go home with some fresh veggies!
  • Surfing connects me to the Earth! Ok, this one’s a little hard to quantify and admittedly hippie-dippy. But there’s something about the salty sea air, the occasional pod of dolphins and the unpredictable nature of the ocean that humbles me and reminds me why I’ve chosen a career in sustainability. Plus, surfing is an outstanding full-body workout!


So when people call me a hipster, I say, “thank you.”

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